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Cut Bank Pass TR to Med. Grizzly Lake - 2 members in 2 triplogs have rated this an average 4.5 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Jul 26 2018

 Guides 21
 Routes 588
 Photos 27,667
 Triplogs 993

65 female
 Joined Feb 26 2004
 Phoenix, AZ
Cut Bank Trailhead to Morningstar Lake, MT 
Cut Bank Trailhead to Morningstar Lake, MT
Hiking avatar Jul 26 2018
Hiking7.10 Miles 1,015 AEG
Hiking7.10 Miles   4 Hrs   46 Mns   1.77 mph
1,015 ft AEG      45 Mns Break
1st trip
Partners partners
We started late since we had all day to do this 6.4 mile hike according to our permit (ended up at 7). The weather was threatening but not enough to stop us from going. We went to Two Medicine Grill for breakfast and then over to Rock n Roll Bakery to see if they had a little knife in their gear section as Wendy had left hers over at Two Medicine where we had lunch. We also picked up two huckleberry grizzly buns. We returned to Brownies Hostel to load up our gear and headed off to the Cut Bank/Pitamakan Pass TH. It's a beautiful drive on Hwy 49. They are doing some major construction on US 89 once you get past that intersection. It looks like they are straightening a lot of the road; better late than never I guess.

We came to our turn for our five mile gravel road drive to our TH where I had hoped there would be parking and there wasn't. So we dropped our backpacks and Wendy took the car back to the ranger station a little more than 1/4 mile up the road. The ranger at Two Medicine said that would be an option. There is certainly room for more parking at this TH. There were already 4 or 5 cars at the Ranger Station parking area. On Wendy's walk back is where she met Bob, an elderly man. He is a volunteer Researcher with the Glacier Institute. I think he had been or would be working on a loon survey or something. She said they had great conversation. He carries quite the camera gear as well. He had recently done the trek over to Red Eagle Lake and said it wasn't the best hiking after the pass.

Bob would be the second of our many coincidences on this trip as we would meet him again on our hike down from the Chalet in less than a week and then running into him at Two Sisters in Baab. Our next coincidence was running into the gal that was at Glacier Outfitters in Apgar where we rented our bear spray. She was doing Triple Divide Pass today. And after enjoying our grizzly buns we were off on the Cut Bank Pass Trail, finally. Oh the packs were heavy as we loaded up knowing we had two nites at MOR and then only a 4 mile hike to ATL with heavy packs as we would be day hiking the rest of the time.

As usual, it starts off with a beautiful meadow and not just any meadow, a meadow with lots of flowers. And what else to finish off this scene but the North Fork of Cut Bank Creek and a big ole mountain, Bad Marriage Mountain. And there is little stretches of forest you come in and out of. And alas, our thimbleberry flora but not quite arm pit high. The thimbleberrys are not ripe yet so probably won't be much threat of bear activity for berries. We would run into Bob and his family about a mile in and talked with them a bit.

A couple miles later the rain was threatening so we geared up for it rather then getting caught in it. Wendy would now have to be in charge of the potato chip bag as I would put my pack cover on. The potato chip bag is a big responsibility as you have to be careful when you put the pack down not to crush the chips. I think Wendy thot I was a little crazy for carrying the chips but she found later at camp the next day after our big hike what a delight they were. About the 2 3/4 mile mark we saw a little side trail that went toward the Creek so we took it. You had a great view down into the rushing creek. We decided as long as were here to take a break. Sadly, this is where we think Wendy's little capsule of rum got left behind altho when we came back thru, it was nowhere to be found.

Once done enjoying the scenery we continued on. We crossed over a side creek where the views opened up pretty significantly; especially toward Kupunkamint and Amphitheatre Mountains to the north and northwest. We got closer to the creek and passed by a pond that would be perfect for moose habitat but alas, nothing. Shortly past here we would run into about 5 hikers who I assume were coming back from Triple Divide Pass. We crossed a couple bridges here. (FYI - if you follow the photos on the topo, the photos are about a tenth of a mile ahead). We came to the intersection with ATL campground/Triple Divide Pass/CDT and took pictures of the signs. We would be coming back this way in a couple days.

So we turned south for MOR thinking we had about 2.5 left but it would end up being 3 left, no big deal. We came to Atlantic Falls which are pretty except for the debris of course. They were flowing fast and furious. We eventually got a little closer to the North Fork of Cut Bank Creek and were hiking below Medicine Grizzly Peak on our right (west) and the west side of Bad Marriage Mountain. Eagle Plume and Red Mountain would also start coming into view. It opened up to quite the glacial valley ahead of us. And soon, we would see several water falls plummeting off of Medicine Grizzly. There is an unnamed lake 6686 that is responsible for all that action and it looks like its fed by a huge snowbank per the topo (we couldn't see either). Our lighting was not the best. We would cross over little running drainages while below the waterfalls that were very high above.

And yep, we were doing the heh bear for all of this hike and clicking our poles together. We would not see anybody on this stretch of our hike. We really didn't see much in the way of critters other than some squirrels and chipmunks. We took a quick break just before the lake; I can't remember why but I think that is where I lost my sunglasses. So we were thinking it was a good day for the critters between the rum and the sunglasses.

It started to sprinkle as we got to the foot of the lake and the sun came out. The bridge was an interesting one as it looks like it was held up by stumps. It was quite solid. We continued our way along the lake for less than a quarter mile when we finally came to the signage. First thing we saw was the pit toilet (covered), next were two camping spots, one already occupied by three tents. We continued walking toward the lake where we picked our spot with a HUGE downed log and a nice flat area for me and almost a perfect hanging spot for Wendy. Interesting, there was still some hail there from the hail storm we experienced the nite before in East Glacier.

We went to the food prep site to hang our food. Wendy got the line throw on the second try. Our campmates were doing some CDT and had started near Marias Pass at Essex where we were a couple nites ago. And for coincidence number 3, we would run into the fellow from IL I think it was at Johnson's restaurant on the 29th. Our campmates were most impressed by our booze collection (vodka, huckleberry wine spritzer, fireball). Anyway, it was nice visiting with them.

I can't remember if it was before or after dinner when we went to the lake for water that we saw the beaver, the goat and the ducks. We saw the ducks when we came in but now they were swimming around across from us. We think they were Goldeneye duck based on Wendy's bird app. Anyway, I took some movies of the beaver and the ducks. And to all a good nite.

Part 1 Cut Bank Pass Trail [ youtube video ]
Part 2 to Atlantic Falls [ youtube video ]
Part 3 Atlantic Falls to Morningstar Lake including critter action about the 12 minute mark [ youtube video ]

Northern Bedstraw
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Substantial
Sub alpine Paintbrush, bedstraw, lupine, gallardia (blanket flower), harebells, aspen fleabane, thimbleberry
For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination.
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.
Jul 02 2008

 Guides 45
 Routes 472
 Photos 8,622
 Triplogs 534

75 male
 Joined Dec 28 2006
 Scottsdale, AZ
Cut Bank Pass TR to Med. Grizzly LakeNorth Central, MT
North Central, MT
Hiking avatar Jul 02 2008
Hiking12.00 Miles 1,789 AEG
Hiking12.00 Miles   5 Hrs   55 Mns   2.03 mph
1,789 ft AEG
no photosets
1st trip
This popular east Glacier Natl Park backpack trail begins at the Cut Bank TH and makes it way(with little elev gain/loss)to a most beautiful setting 6 hiking miles in at Medicine Grizzly Lake(5618'). Mother Nature did a beautiful job of landscaping this area with beautiful meadows, outstanding Rocky Mtn summits, dense-green forests and ground cover, and topped off with the rapid flow of the North Fork of Cut Bank Creek & Atlantic Creek paralleling & crossing this Pitamakan Trail.

For the start of our 5th day hike on this 10 day GNP trip, we were greeted with a cloudy, misty morning with low clouds hanging over the many dominant Rocky Mtn Peaks that lie between us and the lush green meadows with spring flowers guiding our path. As we hiked in we enjoyed the lush-green Douglas fir and lodge pole pine forests that bordered this trail with the fast moving North Fork of Cut Bank Creek and Atlantic Creek paralleling and crossing our trail at numerous locations. At 3.9mls in we passed the intersection of the Pitamakan Lake/Pass(7580') Trail that continues on to the Two Medicine Section of GNP. At 4.3mls we passed a nice backcountry campsite area as we continued to a left turn spur trail junction for Medicine Grizzly Lake at 4.5mls in. If in instead, you continue straight at this spur trail intersection, you will be on another popular backpacking route to Triple Divide Pass(7397') at Triple Divide Peak(one of the most "unusual" points on the North American continent..Google it!!..) to the Saint Mary section of GNP.

At ~6mls in at the beautiful setting with mirror perfect Medicine Grizzly Lake, we took a lunch break as we took-in the surrounding backdrop views of Medicine Grizzly Peak(8153') and Triple Divide Peak(7982') with cascading waterfalls and lacy snow melts streaming down from the high plateaus and cliffs above...just picture perfect reflections to remember forever! :GB:
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Substantial
(Outside.. "there is No Place Like It!!")
1 archive
average hiking speed 1.9 mph

WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

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